My Lords, I thank the Minister for that reply. She made a number of points, which I take on board. I understand why she does not want us to tie the hands of the negotiators—the noble Earl, Lord Attlee, made roughly the same point. I would have hoped that we could find a form of words that introduces the Bill that does not refer to the negotiations, but as a default situation, were we unable to preserve the Community licence scheme. Unfortunately, neither I nor my noble friend Lord Bassam have found a form of words, and it is getting a bit late in the process for this Bill. However, I wonder whether the Minister is prepared to accept that there could be a form of words that makes it clear that this is a contingency Bill. It might not go all the way back to 1973 or 1968, but it allows an entirely different permit-based system to operate. That is our default position if we are not to continue with the present system or something close to it.
The danger is that the Government are kidding themselves that frictionless trade can operate even in the most benign post-Brexit situation if we are outside the customs union and the single market. We do not want to complicate things further by also being outside the licensing system and unable to reproduce, effectively, the same system for our hauliers as we have now, in effect putting them at a serious disadvantage compared to continental hauliers and, indeed, other systems of transport.
Because I understand the Minister’s need to keep flexibility in the negotiations, I am prepared to withdraw the amendment. It is important, however, that the Government recognise that the aim must be to get as close as possible to the present situation and that the costs of an entirely new system, however modern and technologically advanced—noble Lords have made the point that technology is not easily delivered in this context—will be additional, on top of costs that will apply at the frontiers and ports in any case.
Perhaps as a technicality, I point out that I am not sure that my noble friend Lord Bassam would be quite so generous to the Minister; nevertheless, I am happy to withdraw the amendment at this stage, given that the Minister and other noble Lords recognise the intention here. I still think there is a bit of a problem with the way the Bill is presented, but I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.
Amendment 1 withdrawn.
Clause 1: International road transport permits
Amendments 2 and 3 not moved.
Clause 2: Number and allocation of permits etc